Ur-Jeep: Willys MB is probably the most uncomfortable classic car

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Willys MB is probably the most uncomfortable classic car

Ur-Jeep: Willys MB is probably the most uncomfortable classic car-uncomfortable

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The ancestor of all off-road vehicles: The Willys MB. The all-purpose vehicle, which the soldiers called the Jeep, is the result of a tender by the American Defense Ministryisterium from 1940. This photo shows a test vehicle from Willys-Overland that went under the name Willys MA.

Source: pa / dpa

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Spartan equipment: The Willys MB focused on functionality. You looked in vain for decoration and comfort in the original Jeep, after all it was a Kriegs vehicle.

Source: pa / dpa

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Because doors would have meant more weight, they were simply replaced by straps.

Source: pa / dpa

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What could not be missing from Willys MB were a petrol can, spare wheel, shovel and ax.

Source: pa / dpa

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"Go Devil", this is how the robust four-cylinder of the Willys MB was also called. It made 60 hp. The top speed was 105 km / h.

Source: pa / dpa

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With a special set of equipment, the jeep could even drive through the water.

Source: getty images

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Around 600,000 copies of the war jeep were built between 1942 and 1945.

Source: getty images

Old cars are nothing out of the ordinary. The Willys MB, the forerunner of the classic Jeep, is quite different. You can hardly be more Spartan on the road. It starts with the steering.

M.an has to be tough when you’re out and about in a 70-year-old Willys. You shouldn’t have any problems with your intervertebral discs, and you shouldn’t be sensitive to cold either. Because the off-roader, whose manufacturer Willys-Overland is the predecessor brand of Jeep, has no doors.

Neither do electric windshield wipers. No heating either. And – by the way – no brake booster. Not even fourth gear. And the seats are a metal shelf with a tightly padded cushion.

What motivated customers to buy such a vehicle in the past? Nothing at all, because you couldn’t buy the Willys MB; it was a purely military vehicle for which the US Army had tendered a development contract. The car had to be robust, compact and, above all, capable of off-roading.

First gear not synchronized

Willys, a brand that was already building cars before the First World War, was awarded the contract and meticulously implemented the requirements of the specifications: in 1942 the first Willys MB drove, mostly through war-torn Europe.

The Matra Simca Rancho was ahead of its time

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When the Matra Simca Rancho was launched in 1977, many were surprised. The press wrote: "Cars that look like jeeps are now fashionable."

Source: Manufacturer

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Even if the Rancho liked to present itself as a small jeep off-cut, it was only suitable for off-road use to a very limited extent. For cost reasons, it was never offered with all-wheel drive.

Source: Manufacturer

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In the first years of sale, the rancho was still marketed under the name "Matra Simca Rancho".

Source: Wikipedia / Bravada

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After Simca was taken over by Talbot, the name of the futuristic Frenchman was changed to "Talbot Matra Rancho".

Source: Manufacturer

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In the Grand Raid version, the Rancho had a second spare tire on the roof, two searchlights on the hood and a winch with remote control on the front bumper.

Source: Manufacturer

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After 56,500 copies, the Rancho was discontinued in 1983. From then on, the new Renault Espace was built on the production line.

Source: Wikipedia

With this car – our example is from 1944 – we are supposed to travel more than 700 kilometers through north-eastern Germany and Poland in a classic car rally. A challenge, because even getting into the compact load is a little sporty act, but in the end you sit pretty well. Only warm clothes can help against the lack of heating.

The car is easy to deal with, so even inexperienced drivers should have few problems. Sure, the first gear is not synchronized, but the other two are. When downshifting, a little sensitivity is required, then it works without any mechanical friction. In an emergency, you can also start up in second gear, because the extremely long-stroke four-cylinder is a little torque beast and releases considerable power just above idle speed.

Braking without power assistance

Generally the four-cylinder. It takes 60 hp from 2.2 liters of displacement, that is a specific performance that could certainly be seen in the forties. When challenged, it hums audibly – but remains mechanically astonishingly smooth. In any case, the Jeep predecessor drives surprisingly modern and doesn’t hurt in fast corners.

70 years of European people’s cars

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In autumn 1944, the management of the aircraft manufacturer Saab decided to manufacture cars. The first design drafts for the Saab 92 come from the aerospace engineer Gunnar Ljungstrom, the final design language is defined by industrial designer Sixten Sason.

Source: Saab

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A prototype of the 92 is shown to Saab management on June 4, 1947. Only six days later, on June 10th, the press presentation will take place.

Source: Saab

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In September 1944, Volvo presented the PV 444 as the first affordable vehicle from Swedish production. The delivery of the first Volvo PV 444 will start on February 3rd of this monththe following year.

Source: Volvo

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Louis Renault died in 1944, but the Renault 4 CV small car project he launched was promoted by Renault, which was nationalized after the end of the war.

Source: Renault

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The Renault 4 CV finally celebrated its premiere in 1946.

Source: Renault

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In 1944, Peugeot started developing the 203 model, which was to replace the 202 and 402 models as a standard model. The Peugeot 203 made its debut in 1948.

Source: Peugeot

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The production version of the Citroën 2 CV makes its debut at the neighboring stand.

Source: Citroën

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A year later, the Peugeot 203 range was expanded to include the Kombi Familiale.

Source: Peugeot

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From 1951 the Peugeot 203 was also available as a convertible.

Source: Peugeot

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In England, the development of a small car designed by Alec Issigonis was finalized in 1944. The Morris Minor is to be built at the Cowley plant near Oxford.

Source: BMC

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Four years later, the Morris Minor made its debut at London’s Earls Court Motor Show and was available for purchase shortly afterwards.

Source: BMC

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The Fiat 500 B Topolino celebrated its premiere in Geneva in 1948.

Source: Fiat

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A few months later, the Fiat 500 is in Turin as a small family station wagon, Giardiniera Belvedere.

Source: Fiat

The brakes deserve a little more attention. They don’t have power assistance, but they have drums on all four wheels. Even with full physical exertion, the narrow coarse stollers do not block, and when swerving, the Ami behaves quite sluggishly: So please only the passengers should enjoy the landscape freely.

They can also take a long look at the numerous round dials: In addition to the speed, there are also oil pressure gauges, voltmeters and water temperature. The latter hardly needs to be considered, the Willys is robust and does not get too hot.

More comfortable than feared

The two other levers next to the gearshift are also noticeable. Off-road gear reduction and mechanical differential lock make it an off-road vehicle that deserves its name. But we’re not trying out the off-road capability at this rally, it’s better for the chassis and clutch.

From the tuning cabinet of curiosities

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Roadster with wings: with such add-on parts from the Mercedes tuner Koenig Specials, SL drivers can be sure of undivided attention.

Source: picture alliance / dpa tmn

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Breitbau: This classic golf car drifting through the curve is also conspicuous through and through. Abt once installed a turbo engine with 163 hp under the hood of the GTI.

Source: picture alliance / dpa tmn

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It all started with the red pig: Mercedes tuner AMG caused a sensation among tuning fans with this motorsport conversion of the S-Class. The Affalterbacher are considered to be one of the most renownedtest factory forges in the world.

Source: picture alliance / dpa tmn

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Boah-ey-factor: Imposing spoiler brand "French fries counter" at the rear of this Mercedes, also from Koenig Specials.

Source: picture alliance / dpa tmn

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A converted VW Beetle with exposed wheels.

Source: picture alliance / dpa

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This Opel Manta has also been badly alienated.

Source: picture alliance / gms

And how do you feel after a few hundred kilometers in this archaic vehicle? After all, you are less shaken than expected, the leaf springs do their job flawlessly. The skinny spoke steering wheel can be turned relatively easily, hard work looks different.

And the shovel, which you should always have with you with this vehicle, was not needed on the paved roads. A couple of outbreaks of frost were the biggest obstacles.

On the other hand: As great as the fascination emanates from the Jeep ancestor Willys MB – after such a long journey, it is with great pleasure that you switch to another car. How about a Wagoneer at the next rally, for example, to stay with the brand? The top version has eight pots under the hood, conveys American driving culture and is also a real Jeep. And it even has doors.

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